NJSIAA Group 2 Girls Sectional Tournament Preview

photo by: Tommy Pants

As we approach the second round of the Girls' Basketball Group 2 Sectional Tournament, anticipation is palpable for what is sure to be an enthralling series of matchups. This preview takes a closer look at the key confrontations, top contenders, and individual stars who have the potential to shape the journey toward the championship.

North 1
North 1 kicks off with Jefferson coming in as the #1-seed and it is deservingly so. The Falcons have put together an impressive year with a 21-4 record and taken down some impressive teams. Their biggest win came at the end of the season as they defeated Immaculate Heart 52-42. On the year they win by an average of 19 points per game making them a very difficult team to beat as they paly well on both sids of the ball. They are pretty balanced on offense but have two standout scorers in Emily Poulas and Cassidy Ball. As we step into the second round of play, look for Jefferson to continue making statements in this bracket.

Mahwah as put together a successful season with a record of 20-7 going into Round 2. Two of these wins come from the #4-seed, Westwood which proves their strength in this bracket. The Thunderbird offense is led by Senior, Marissa LaVerghetta who has been a key player on both sides of the ball this year. LaVerghetta not only leads the team in scoring, but also has grabbed the most boards while averaging over 5 steals per game. The other spark of offensive flow has come from the Freshman, Harper Cohn who has been outstanding in her first year. Mahwah has already started off strong as they held their opponent to 18 points for the entire game.

A game to keep an eye on that has potential to shake things up is the #3-seed Glen Rock vs. the #6-seed Leonia. Both teams have put together successful season with Glen Rock being 18-6 and Leonia being 20-6. Glen Rock has been battle tested with a slightly tougher schedule and have seen some tough losses, including one over the #1-seed Jefferson in which the Panthers lost 45-37. The dynamic trio in Maggie Harris, Abbey Grove, and Emily McKegney have key pieces to this teams success. Leonia on the other hand has been red hot for most of the season. At one point they only lost one time in a stretch of 17 games. The last few weeks have been a little shaky, but the Lions look to get back on track. In Round 1, they held their opponent to 17 points and dominated in every aspect. They are led by a dangerous duo in Angelica Do and Dani Daproza who are both underclassmen and average nearly 40 points a game together.

The Westwood and Morris Tech game should also be a good battle with both teams posing similar numbers. Tech actually has a better record at 20-4 while the #4-seed Westwood comes in at 18-10. The Cardinals have been solid all year with over 48 points per game with their trio group of girls Kate Walsh, Cameron Roche, and Erin Gashler who make up the majority of the teams scoring. The Devils on the other hand have a trio of their own in Cortni Vnencak, Priya Gandhi, and Harper Felch who have been well rounded players all season. This match up makes for an exciting battle in the quarterfinal round.

North 2
The top seed, Secaucus looks to get back to where they were just a year ago. The Patriots cleaned up in their section bracket and made it to the Group Finals where they suffered a loss to New Providence. But this time around, they look for revenge. With the toughest schedule in this bracket, it seems they will be the best prepared to battle with anyone. Alyssa Craigwell has been looking awesome all year as she averages nearly 20 points per game adding to a productive offense. Mia Cruz and freshman Olivia Buckingham have also been key pieces in this offense.

As Seacaucus looks to avenge last year’s ending, a new group of teams look to take that crown. Teams like Rutherford and Madison have all had a successful 2024 as well. Rutherford is the #2-seed and has a current win streak of 10 games in dominating fashion. However, they did already suffer two losses to Secaucus this year. The question is will they be able to adjust and overcome? Madison is the #3-seed and have looked sharp all year as they had a solid strength of schedule being in the NJAC. They are 4-4 in their last 8 but have been in some really tight battles with some tough teams like Jefferson, Old Tappan, Pingry, and Morristown.

Another team that can make some noise in this bracket is Newark Central. The Blue Devils are 17-9 but have been in a ton of tough conference battles with some of the top teams in the state. The biggest factor for them is Faith Fedd-Robinson who is an absolute star. On the year, she has over 600 points, 350 rebounds, 100 assists, steals and blocks. She can do it all. If this team can lock in at the right time, there might be some upsets on the horizon.

The Central Sectional bracket features two powerhouse teams that could easily dominate on their path to each other. In fact, that is exactly what they did just a year ago. #1 New Providence and #2 Manasquan have been two of the best teams in the state this season and look to prove why that is in this year's playoff run. The returning champion, New Providence is looking to claim another title this year as they step into this round at 23-4. The Pioneers have crushed opponents all season and currently average over 53 ppg. Their trio stars in Brenna Slattery, Grace Kinum and Annie Conover have scored over 1,000 points together. This team plays tough and knows how to push the pace to make you play their game. It could be a slippery slope for teams trying to contest. Manaquan comes in at 21-5 and have been in some very tough battles as they go through a stretch of top ranked teams in the state being in the Shore Conference (arguably the best Girls Basketball conference). Seniors, Katie Collins and Hope Masonius have led the way this season, but the Warriors truly have a balance attack with 5 more players scoring over 100 points on the year. Despite losing a few games to top teams, Manasquan also beat St. John Vianney and St. Rose. To add to the fire, they also picked up wins in Lenape, Gill St. Bernard’s and Red Bank Catholic. Being battle tested alls season, the Warriors will look to reclaim this section and avenge last year’s loss as they approach the finals.

Although this bracket is led by two powerhouse teams, another game that could shake things up will be the winner between Rumson-Fair Haven and Holmdel. Rumson is the current #3-seed and have put together a solid campaign. They picked up big wins early on against teams like Union City and Chatham but suffered a few tough losses in close battles with teams like Mainland and Ewing. Raquel Guidetti is making her mark in her Senior year as she has over 350 points to date. As the bulldogs gear up for another round, the #11-seed Holmdel is not to be taken lightly. Holmdel comes in at 14-10 but have battled with top teams in the state all year. Don’t let their record fool you. The Hornets recently had a 21 point first round win over the #6 seed and prove they deserve to be in the mix. They currently average over 50 ppg and are led by Allison Cannon and Mackenzie Teevan. The outcome of this game gives the winner a chance to shake things up in the following round.

The South sectional bracket is honestly one of the biggest toss ups in Group 2. The top 4 seeds sit with over 20 wins each for the 2024 season, making this a very competitive bracket. Cinnaminson grabs the #1-seed at 22-8 with a balanced rosters of underclassmen looking to make an impact in this year’s race. Middle is in as the #2-seed and is very capable of making a run as they battled out a tough South Jersey schedule all year. The Tigers are coming off a 49 point win in round 1 and will look to carry that momentum into the next round.

One of the teams that stick out most in this bracket is Manchester, who have a superstar on their hands with NC State commit Devyn Quigley. The senior guard is the returning scoring leader and will most likely reach that feat again as she currently sits at 910 points on the year. Quigley and Manchester’s offense is fast paces and they like to score. Freshman, Madeline Nolan has also found herself highly involved with nearly 10 ppg to add.

Haddonfield on the other hand has the best record of the bunch at 22-4. The Bulldogs are no strangers to winning as they had a mid season run of 15 wins in 16 games. They keep games a little slower and put emphasis on defense. They held opponents to under 28 points per game and in their most recent win, they held the offense to 21 points. This team’s style can really shake things up within the bracket.